Role of substrate availability in the growth of Campylobacter co-cultured with extended spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli in Bolton broth

M.I. Lanzl, O. van Mastrigt, M.H. Zwietering, T. Abee, H.M.W. den Besten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


It is well-established that Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing (ESBL-) Escherichia coli challenge reliable detection of campylobacters during enrichment in Bolton broth (BB) following ISO 10272-1:2017. The overgrowth of Campylobacter by ESBL-E. coli in the enrichment medium BB can lead to false-negative detection outcomes, but the cause for the growth suppression is yet unknown. A plausible reason could be the competition-induced lack of certain growth substrates. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate whether campylobacters and ESBL-E. coli compete for the same medium components and whether this is the cause for the observed growth repression. The availability of possible growth substrates in BB was determined and changes in their extracellular concentration were measured over time during mono-culture enrichment of C. jejuni, C. coli or ESBL-E. coli as well as in co-culture enrichments of campylobacters and ESBL-E. coli. Comparative analysis showed lactate and fumarate utilization by C. jejuni and C. coli exclusively, whereas ESBL-E. coli rapidly consumed asparagine, glutamine/arginine, lysine, threonine, tryptophan, pyruvate, glycerol, cellobiose, and glucose. Both campylobacters and ESBL-E. coli utilized aspartate, serine, formate, a-ketoglutarate and malate. Trends in compound utilization were similar for C. jejuni and C. coli and trends in compound utilization were rather comparable during enrichment of reference and freeze-stressed campylobacters. Since final cell densities of C. jejuni and C. coli in co-cultures were not enhanced by the addition of surplus L-serine and final cell densities were similar in fresh and spent medium, growth suppression seems not to be caused by a lack of substrates or production of inhibitory compounds. We hypothesized that oxygen availability was limiting growth in co-cultures. Higher oxygen availability increased the competitive fitness of C. jejuni 81-176 in co-culture with ESBL-E. coli in duplicate experiments, as cell concentrations in stationary phase were similar to those without competition. This could indicate the critical role of oxygen availability during the growth of Campylobacter and offers potential for further improvement of Campylobacter spp. enrichment efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109518
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Early online date31 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Enrichment
  • Extracellular metabolites
  • HPLC
  • ISO 10272-1:2017
  • Oxygen-deprivation


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